Clarence Acox, Seattle JazzED Co-Founder
Quincy Jones Ensemble

An outstanding educator for over 40 years, Clarence Acox directs the award-winning Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble, which has qualified and placed among the top three bands in the Essentially Ellington competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center for many years. A native of New Orleans, he graduated from Southern University. In 2002 he received the national Educator of the Year Award from Downbeat magazine, and has been voted Earshot Jazz Musician of the Year.

“My kids often come back and tell me how much playing in the band changed their lives. Playing music — especially jazz — can do that to you. I’ve dreamed of making that experience available to every kid who wants it.”

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Marina Christopher
Louis Armstrong Ensemble, JazzED Messengers

Marina Christopher is a jazz bassist and vocalist quickly gaining notoriety. Marina graduated from Central Washington University, where she studied both jazz and classical music. She has over 10 years of performing experience in jazz combos as well as big bands, salsa bands, rock bands, hip-hop groups, classical chamber groups and even a stint in a cruise ship show band. Marina has taught for several years as a private instructor and as a clinician/coach for jazz and classical music camps in the Seattle area. Marina is also an avid composer and arranger and has released two albums of her own compositions.


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Kelly Clingan
Girls Ellington Project, Fall Jazz Boot Camp, WeBop

Kelly Clingan is the former Director of Concert Bands and Jazz at Washington Middle School (her alma mater). A graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of Washington, she is rooted in Seattle's celebrated tradition of music education. Kelly plays trombone in Banda Vagos, a traditional Mexican Banda, performing throughout the Puget Sound area on a weekly basis.

“I am committed to driving gender and racial equity forward through music, from the beginning classroom to the professional stage. Join me in re-imagining music education that links artistic excellence to empowerment and social justice.”

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Tina Dietz
JazzED in the Schools

Christina Dietz learned to sing at church in Chimacum, Washington. She added ukulele to her repertoire in 2013, studying with roots music master Lightnin' Wells at the Pt. Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival. When she is not performing as Teeny Deets, she works at Bainbridge Gardens while pursuing a degree in horticulture.


Darin Faul
Dizzy Gillespie Ensemble

Darin Faul teaches at Mountlake Terrace High School where he has been directing the concert band and jazz band programs since 1998. Darin is a native of Tacoma, Washington and attended Pacific Lutheran University and the Vienna Music Academy before receiving his degree from the University of Washington. He also holds a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and has received several awards while at Mountlake Terrace including the PTSA Teacher of the Year award, the Rotary Educator of the Month Award, and the Celebrate Teachers Award.


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Haley Freedlund
Trombone Coach

Haley Freedlund is a trombonist and vocalist, working primarily in free improvisation, new works, and creative/jazz-rooted music. She has been based in Seattle since 2011, where she earned a BM in Jazz Performance from Cornish College of the Arts and has since established herself as a multi-disciplinary powerhouse in the performing arts community. 

Haley is a frequent collaborator with Wayne Horvitz, Tom Varner, Christian Pincock, Karl Blau, and Ruby Dunphy (Thunderpussy). She has enjoyed collaborations with Heatwarmer, Cherdonna Shinatra, iji, Phillip Greenlief, Sam Lachow, BATTERY, and St. Paul de Vence. 

As a producer and manager, Haley has working relationships with Darcy James Argue, Ahamefule J. Oluo, The Westerlies, ings, Racer Sessions, Seattle Improvised Music Festival, and Earshot Jazz among others. 


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Freddy Gonzalez
JazzED in the Schools, Paquito D’Rivera Combo

Bio coming soon.


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Daniel Hershman-Rossi
JazzED in the Schools Curriculum Design

Daniel Hershman-Rossi is an elementary general music teacher and trombonist in Cleveland, Ohio. He is passionate about culturally responsive music education and social justice. Daniel has degrees in Music Education and Trombone Performance from the University of Washington and a Masters in Elementary Music Education from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. Prior to teaching in Cleveland, Daniel taught instrumental and general music in Seattle and Chicago, where he also served on the Illinois Music Educators Association General Music council. Daniel teaches PK-5 general music and choir at Noble Elementary in Cleveland Heights, where he lives with his wife Sarah and his dog Walter.


Wayne Horvitz
New Works Ensemble, Creative Orchestra Project

Composer, pianist, and keyboardist, Wayne Horvitz performs extensively throughout Europe, Japan, and North America. He is the leader of Sweeter Than the Day, Zony Mash, The 4 Plus 1 Ensemble, the Gravitas Quartet and co-founder of the New York Composer Orchestra. A prolific composer, he has been commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Players, the Icicle Creek Trio, Kronos, BAM, Meet The Composer BAM and others. He has produced albums for Eddie Palmieri, Fontella Bass, Robin Holcomb and Bill Frisell among others. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award for jazz, the 2008 NEA American Masterpieces Award, and the 2003 Rockefeller Map Grant. He is the music programmer for The Royal Room, a performance venue in Seattle, Washington, and a professor of composition at the Cornish College of the Arts.

“The JazzED New Works Ensemble fills in the cracks with classic jazz from lesser known composers, famous jazz artists who do not get presented in big bands, band leaders and arrangers who tend to be relegated to the fringes, and modern composers. My ensemble fuses the best of classical and jazz ensemble traditions with an emphasis on improvisation and even the creation of new works by living composers, especially students.”

Cora Jackson
Nina Simone Vocal Ensemble, Jazz Prep Choir

For more than thirty years, Cora’s career has been music ministry. She has performed with many great gospel musicians, and toured with several choirs as vocalist and music director.

Cora's numerous public appearances include: Sankofa Maafa, Port Townsend Blues and Jazz Festivals, televised Black History Month programs, Children’s Defense Fund National Conference, Black Dollar Days banquet with Dick Gregory, singing of the national anthem for the Seattle Supersonics ball game, radio and television appearances and countless other special occasions. She ministers at schools, juvenile detention centers, prisons, homeless shelters, recovery centers and churches across the Northwest.


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Robert Knatt
Director Emeritus

A recipient of the Washington State Golden Apple Award, Robert Knatt has been an educator for over 35 years, most recently at Washington Middle School, where he directed the award-winning middle school jazz ensembles and concert bands. A native of New Iberia, LA, he graduated from Grambling State University. He has inspired thousands of students and helped them develop the discipline to perform jazz at the highest levels.

“A lot of people are surprised when they hear for themselves just how good a middle school or high school jazz band can be. But I know for a fact that when you raise the bar high, kids rise up and play at that level. My job is to set that bar.”

Ricardo Luna
Benny Goodman Ensemble, Jazz Prep Brass Ensemble, Fall Jazz Club, Summer Jazz Ambassadors

Ricardo is a music educator and trombonist from Los Angeles, California. He recently moved to Seattle and is currently working on his Washington State teaching certificate at the University of Washington. Before coming to Seattle, Ricardo worked for the Los Angeles School District’s Beyond the Bell Branch coordinating after-school music programs, ensembles and events that continue to positively impact students throughout the district. His most recent work included creating and teaching the BTB after-school community music program which provided quality music education for elementary and middle school students in under-served neighborhoods.


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Kelsey Mines
Jazz Prep Strings Ensemble

A Seattle native, Kelsey Mines is a performer, composer, and teacher of the double bass. Kelsey earned her Bachelor of Music in Double Bass Performance from the University of Washington with professor Barry Lieberman. She went on to complete a Masters in Double Bass Performance from Arizona State University under the direction of Catalin Rotaru. Kelsey has followed her passion for the double bass to the Netherlands, where she studied at Prince Claus Conservatoire before returning to Seattle where she now teaches and performs a variety of styles, from jazz to classical to pop. Wherever she may be, Kelsey aspires to create, collaborate, and perform music that enriches and enlivens the world around her.


Tracy Hagen
Strings Coach

Tracy Hagen's cello performing has taken her through many genres of music, including classical, jazz, rock, and punk, and to many parts of the world as well. Tracy has won several awards for her playing including scholarships, orchestral positions, and awards from University of Puget Sound, Max Aronoff Viola Institute, and the Washington State division of Music Teacher's National Association.  A graduate cum laude of Cornish College of the Arts, Tracy strives to impart the knowledge and love of playing she's gained from many prominent cellists and musicians to the next generation of musicians through compassionate and engaging lessons, and through a positive, supportive, and nurturing environment.


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Kareem Kandi
Horace Silver Combo, Herbie Hancock Combo

Since 1996, Kareem Kandi has been performing both as a bandleader and as a sideman to enthusiastic audiences around the world at concert halls, festivals, and clubs. Kareem has performed, toured and recorded with musicians including: Patti Labelle, Ali Jackson, D’vonne Lewis, Bill Watrous, The Seattle Symphony, Julian Priester, The Paperboys, The Tacoma Symphony, Alex Duncan, Frazey Ford, DJ Hapa, The Polyrhythmics, Bill Ramsay, The Staxx Brothers, Greta Matassa, The Temptations, Hadley Caliman, The Four Tops, The Harry James Orchestra, and many others. He received a full scholarship to attend Cornish College of the Arts.  At Cornish he studied with renowned jazz artists including: Jovino Santos Neto, Julian Priester, Hadley Caliman, Dave Peck, Randy Halberstadt, Chuck Deardorf, and Jim Knapp.  

As an educator Kareem maintains a busy schedule teaching at The Tacoma School of the Arts as an artist in residence. Along with his teaching duties he is also the director of the Tacoma Jazz Association, serves on the Tacoma Arts Commission, and is a D’Addario Woodwinds performing artist.


Al Keith
Trumpet Coach, JazzED Messengers

Trumpet player Al Keith is a fixture on the Seattle music scene. His playing credits locally as 1st Trumpet or featured soloist include theRoyal Room Collective Music Ensemble; David Marriott's Triskadeka band, The Emerald City Jazz Orchestra; and The Sonny Clark Memorial Sextet. Other credits include the Cab Calloway Orchestra; Manhattan Transfer; Natalie Cole; Ray Charles; Bobby Caldwell and a tour with the Tommy Dorsey Band. As lead trumpet he has performed with British crooner Jamie Cullum and The Washington Composers Orchestra. Recording credits include work for PBS, Universal Vivendi, and dozens of local and National CD's. Al maintains a private teaching studio from his home in North Seattle, and is faculty brass instructor at Shoreline Community College.


Photo by Steve Korn

David Marriott, Jr.
Geri Allen Composer’s Workshop, J.J. Johnson Trombone Choir, JazzED in the Schools

A two-time Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Award recipient and winner of the 1999 National Jazz Trombone Competition, David Marriott, Jr. is an in-demand soloist in a variety of Seattle jazz groups, including the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, Emerald City Jazz Orchestra, Washington Composers Orchestra, Zubatto Syndicate and his own critically-acclaimed groups Septology, Pop Culture and Triskaidekaband. 

David has served as director of the jazz bands at both the University of Washington and Edmonds Community College, and teaches at many summer workshops each year including the University of Washington Jazz Workshop, Drayton Harbor Music Festival, and Shoreline Jazz Camp. David is also an active recording artist, having appeared on over fifty albums to date in styles ranging from jazz to hip-hop, from blues to Broadway, from salsa to soukous. David Marriott, Jr. is a Yamaha Performing Artist and endorses Yamaha trombones.


Dmitri Matheny
Hank Mobley Combo, Lil Hardin Combo

First introduced to jazz audiences in the 1990s as the protégé of Art Farmer, Matheny has matured into “one of the jazz world's most talented horn players” (San Francisco Chronicle). Matheny has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has performed with the Temptations, Martha Reeves, Fabian, the Four Tops, Bobby Vinton, Sandy Patty, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and the O'Jays.

Matheny has held teaching faculty and management positions with the Boston Center for the Arts, California Jazz Conservatory, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,  and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. He has served as Director of Education, Director of Development and Director of Corporate Sponsorships for SFJAZZ, the largest nonprofit jazz presenter on the west coast, as Assistant Education Director for the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Colony at Jazz Aspen Snowmass, and as Artist-In-Residence at several universities and conservatories.


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Sherrell Mitchell
Jazz Prep Choir and Nina Simone Vocal Ensemble Accompanist

Sherrell Mitchell, a native of Louisiana, developed a love for music at an early age following the lead of his parents. Unaware of God's calling and anointing on his life, he gravitated towards percussion and drumming initially, but eventually took an interest in the piano and learned to play by ear. Since the early years, Sherrell has grown musically through an array of studies as well as some great mentors along the way, including Vivian Perryman, Minister Darryl Hawk, Minister Phil Curry, Minister Grady Austin and Pastor Cora Jackson. Currently he shares his gifts with several ministries around the Greater Seattle area.


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Davy Nefos
JazzED Messengers

Davy Nefos is as versatile as it gets when it comes to performing on drum set in styles of afro-cuban, brazilian, jazz, modern rock, drumline, EDM, hip-hop and modern big band. He received a bachelors degree in percussion performance from Central Washington University. Davy has been playing drums for 30 years and teaching privately to all ages for 20 years. Currently he is head instructor for the Lake Stevens High School drum-line and drum set professor at Edmonds Community College. Nefos has performed with Thomas Marriott, David Marriott, Jon Sanders, Alexey Nikolaev, Frank DeMeiro, Kim Nazarian, Greta Matasa, Jean Caze, The Jazz Pearls, The Jazz Police, Jim Cutler Big Band, Emerald City Jazz Orchestra, Northwest Big Band, The Seattle Jazz Singers, Tetrabox, Real Don Music, Papa Josh Trio and Maque Attack.


Kate Olson
Saxophone Coach

Kate Olson can be heard performing with her own projects Syrinx Effect, KO SOLO, and the KO Ensemble and as a collaborator with Ask the Ages, the Seattle Rock Orchestra, the Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble and Electric Circus (led by Wayne Horvitz), the Seattle Jazz Composer's Ensemble and multiple other groups. 

Kate has a BA in Music from the University of Wyoming and an MM in Improvisation from the University of Michigan. Kate’s international resume includes performances in Russia, Latvia, Turkey, Switzerland and Slovakia. She has appeared on stage with Terry Riley, Stuart Dempster, Pauline Oliveros, Allison Miller, Bobby Previte, Skerik, Patricia Barber and pop music icons Elvis Costello, Brandi Carlile, Sir Mix-a-lot and Big Star's Third, among others. In 2011 and 2013, Kate was nominated for the Earshot Golden Ear Award in the Emerging Artist category, and in 2014 she was nominated for the Best NW Instrumentalist Category. 


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Jim Sisko
Fall Jazz Boot Camp

Jim Sisko has become one of the most sought after teachers, and performers in the Northwest. The Jim Sisko Quintet has been featured at countless festivals and concert venues, including the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, The Art of Jazz Series and Jazz Under the Stars. He has performed with The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, The Manhattan Transfer, and the rock band Yes to name a few.  Jim has served as principal trumpet for the Yakima Symphony, and has performed with the Seattle Symphony as well.  He can be heard on over 40 motion picture soundtracks, and many independent c.d. projects. Sisko’s trumpet students are well versed in both classical and jazz styles, and are consistently recognized as some of the strongest players in the region. Jim has served as a Camp Director for Jazz camps throughout the Northwest, and is currently the director of the Shoreline Jazz Camp.  In addition to his home teaching studio, Jim is the director of the Instrumental Music program at Bellevue College and is the director of the award winning Bellevue College Jazz Bands.


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Tony Sodano
Jazz Percussion Prep Ensemble, Max Roach Percussion Combo, Summer Percussion Project

Tony Sodano received his Master's degree in Music Education from Washington State University as a multi-instrumentalist focusing on electric bass, percussion and guitar. During his studies, he composed for and instructed the Washington State University Marching Band Drumline. After receiving his Master's, Tony spent two years working with Celebrity Cruises playing bass in their show band around the world.

As the former band director at Garfield High School, he ran the marching and concert bands along with the award winning drumline program. He is the assistant director of the Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline and has performed with Kenny Aronoff, David Garibaldi, Alan White, Scott Mercado, Owuor Arunga, Michael Derosier, Scott Rockenfield, Ryan Lewis & Macklemore.


Mark Taylor
Count Basie Ensemble

Mark Taylor is one of the most in demand saxophonists in the Pacific Northwest. A Seattle native and resident, Mark’s personal sound and style are a fixture on the local jazz scene and have given him opportunities to perform for audiences all over the United States and Japan. Mark performs and records extensively with such diverse and award winning groups as Matt Jorgensen +451, Jim Knapp Orchestra, Frieze of Life, Victor Noriega Trio + 2, Tom Varner’s Tentet and Quintet, Thomas Marriott, Wayne Horvitz, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and the Randy Halberstadt Quintet. 

As an educator, Mark has a full studio of private students and is a highly sought after guest artist and clinician for festivals, workshops, and clinics throughout the region. He holds a BM from the University of Washington (1994), and MM from the Manhattan School of Music (2000) in New York City where his performance credentials include appearances with the Grammy Award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.


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Eric Verlinde
WeBop Piano Accompanist

Pianist Eric Verlinde has excited audiences worldwide with his energetic and passionate performances. He is in high demand and is constantly performing, refining the sound and creating new music. His different groups create music that is creative, spontaneous, superbly structured and melodic. Currently, he works with Josephine Howell at El Gaucho, The EntreMundos Quarteto (a Brazilian samba ensemble) and a number of top Northwest musicians.

He has played music with legends like: Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, Eric Alexander, Terell Stafford, Mark Murphy, Luis Conte, Thelma Huston, Floyd Standifer, Buddy Cattlet, Bryan Lynch, Hadley Caliman, Francine Reed, Bobby Medina, Thomas Marriott and Bill Waltrous.


Dan Wickham
Jazz Prep Woodwind Ensemble

Dan Wickham is an active performer on woodwinds in the northwest best known for his work performing and recording on clarinet with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO) and the award winning Banda Vagos.   Dan has toured with the Temptations, the Harry James Orchestra, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and more recently Banda Vagos.  Dan’s range and versatility on all woodwinds can be seen by performances with the Seattle Symphony, Clint Holmes, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Brian Bromberg, Alice Stewart, Shameless Hussy, Doctor Funk, Molasses, and Type A.  Dan can be seen regularly with The Grooving Higher Orchestra, Banda Vagos and los Choyeros among many others.


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Darrius Willrich
Jazz Prep Piano Ensemble

Darrius Willrich is a trained jazz pianist, a soulful singer, and an intelligent songwriter, with a love for hip-hop. With a degree in jazz piano, a voice full of tone, and songwriting rich in sensitivity, his songs take you back and propel you forward all at once. Darrius’ years of experience as an instrumentalist, sideman, leader, producer and recording artist, allow him to paint soul using a rich and diverse sonic palette of warm colors and textures. In addition to his own project the Darrius Willrich Band, he has performed with many projects including Eternity Ministries Church, Michael v Prince Band, Seattle Rock Orchestra, Choklate, Hadley Caliman Quartet, Jazz Offering, Source of Labor, Maktub and Big World Breaks.